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Coach pleased with Falcons' minicamp

The SportsXchange

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- As the Atlanta Falcons finished their mandatory minicamp on Thursday, coach Mike Smith made it sound as if the only stormy issue was the weather that drove the team inside earlier in the week.

And that is despite the fact that quarterback Matt Ryan is still looking for a new contract, which might be enough to make many teams edgy.

"I'm really pleased with how our guys really finished our non-game playing season," Smith said. "They've been very focused. They adjusted well on Tuesday when we had to go inside. We had a good practice there and they came out today and finished off strong. I thought the competition was good and we've got a lot of tape to evaluate on these guys over the next seven or eight days."

Ryan said his contract situation was not a distraction and both he and team officials act as if a deal is inevitable and is just going through the usual motions.

"All I need to worry about is taking care of my business on the field," Ryan said. "I have to do everything that I can to be the best player that I can be. I've always had the opinion that if you do that, the rest of the stuff falls in place.

"I'll kind of leave that with people experienced in dealing with that, my agents and with our front office. I have got a lot of confidence in both sides that we're going to get this done and hopefully I'll be here for a long time."

In fact, there seemed to be more commotion this week about the backup quarterback job than anything about the starter.

After not playing a down last season as the No. 3 quarterback, Dominique Davis wants to secure the No. 2 spot, which is technically open because the Falcons did not to re-sign Luke McCown, who moved to the New Orleans Saints in free agency.

"I'm just trying to be sharp in the meeting room and apply it out here on the field," Davis said. "I'm trying to show these coaches that I'm out here working hard, trying to learn and trying to secure this No. 2 spot."

Davis had some excellent moments in last year's preseason games, completing 33 of 56 passes for 402 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

And this year he thinks he has a stronger command of the offense.

"It's a lot slower," he said, referring to his perception of the speed of the game. "Just as far as calling the play in the huddle, the cadence and just sounding more confident in the huddle."

Davis, who made the roster the hard way -- through regional combines after passing for more than 7,000 yards at East Carolina -- has been a backup to Ryan before.

He was a redshirt freshman at Boston College during Ryan's senior season there. He later transferred to Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College and led that team to a national JC championship before moving to East Carolina.

--Cornerback Asante Samuel did not take part in practice on Thursday after he landed awkwardly Wednesday as he broke up a pass. He was on the sidelines with his right ankle taped.

--The Falcons turned down the opportunity to appear on the HBO documentary "Hard Knocks" twice, but will make an appearance this season anyway when this year's featured team, the Cincinnati Bengals, play their preseason opener on Aug. 8 at the Georgia Dome.

"I think you call that a cameo appearance," Smith said.
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